Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Curriculum: Bible for Little Ones

A few people have asked me what curriculum I use to teach the bible to my younger children. Since Shane and Kevin are still just beginning readers, we use the Rod & Staff bible stories and coloring book. The boys, and Brianna, each have their own copy of the coloring book and they color a picture based on the bible story while I read it aloud to them.

I like this set because it has a chronological series of bible events from Adam and Eve all the way through to Revelation. It introduces my youngest ones to important figures from the bible and tells their story in an easy to understand way. The story of Jonah even has an interactive puppet to cut out and use with the book. For a few of the stories that they didn't explain in enough depth I read to the kids from Brianna's New International Reader's Bible. This is the version we've given each of our older girls. It's still accurate, but written for young readers.

Danya and Gloria are good readers, so for them we use a more advanced bible study program. We like the Kay Arthur series of study guides. They are written for the kids to follow on their own, with fill in the blanks, and instructions for how to really study and understand God's Word. Currently they are working their way through "How to Study Your Bible For kids", but this Fall we participated in a Mother/Daughter bible study at our church using the "Wrong Way, Jonah!" study guides.

Deck the Tree

I don't know why we bother buying ornaments for our tree. The kids seem to enjoy the flimsy paper ornaments that they made years ago the most. I suppose I should take the time to have them make better ornaments since they treasure the hand made ones so much. I've never bothered with elaborate crafts or things that would make me cry if they got broken. Maybe next year we'll try making some of those Styrofoam snowmen ornaments or baking clay ornaments.

At least the soft ornaments on our tree didn't hurt Katie when she pulled the whole thing over on top of herself. The fake tree branches actually did more damage, cutting her in about three different places on her face. Daniel says that next year we can buy a new, much bigger, tree because this one is very old and way too small for our new living room with it's 20 foot ceiling.

Friday, November 26, 2010

1/3 of the Way to 100

Turning 33 wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I got to go shopping with Daniel for Black Friday and he bought me not one, but two ice cream cakes. I even got a few nice gifts including a new book and a treadmill that I'd been wanting. I really enjoyed getting to go shopping super early in the morning without any kids. Daniel and I hit the stores at 4 a.m. and went until about 8 a.m. We got a big chunk of our Christmas shopping knocked out that day. It was a sad day, too, though because lots of Daniel's family were heading home. It was a crazy week, but one I will always remember.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Holding Hadassah

Katie and Kevin both enjoyed getting to hold someone littler than them. They were fascinated with her, even though she can't do much yet. She is so pretty and such a content little girl.

All the talk of babies and getting to hold everyone else's babies lately has made me get that old familiar longing for another one. I told Daniel that if we can adopt one more time first, then I'd be ready to try again. That may be two years away at least, but it makes me feel better knowing that Katie isn't necessarily the last. We'll see what God has planned for us.

A House Full & A Heart Full

We had the best Thanksgiving this year! Daniel's entire immediate family agreed to come from Oklahoma, Texas, and Florida to spend the week with us in our new home. We had 19 kids and 10 adults all under one roof, and all but two of them actually slept here! Every room was full to bursting, but the kids had a great time and Daniel was so proud to welcome his family into his home. We've never owned a place big enough to fit this many before.

I'm still amazed we managed to fit everyone onto the stair case for our annual group photo. I was also happy that our former foster daughters, Smaly and Selina, were able to be with us again for Thanksgiving. This is the third year they've joined us. Daniel had to climb a chair and brace the tripod and camera on the kitchen counter to get this photo. Then, while I was holding Katie up on the stairs I somehow managed to twist my back and pull a muscle. I couldn't lift my arms or carry anything and it hurt to move for about two days afterwords.

Daniel printed an 8 x 10 of this photo and I framed it and hung it... you guessed it... on the wall of the staircase.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Nos Familia

During the week of Thanks giving we were so blessed to be able to have Daniel's brother, Ben, and his family come all the way from Texas to stay with us. They drove to Oklahoma and then flew the rest of the way here to Colorado. That's quite a trip with three kids including their sweet new baby girl, Hadassah.

Ben teaches high school Spanish in Del Rio during the school year, and then he packs up his family during all the breaks to lead mission teams into Mexico. His wife, Diana, is native to Mexico. Her family runs an orphanage just across the border in Acuna. She is learning English much faster than I am learning Spanish. She even substitute teaches sometimes for Ben.

While they were here, they let me take portraits of their family. Little Nehmi never smiled once. I wish I knew what he was thinking behind those big brown eyes. Also during their stay, Ben took a long run every morning. On Thanksgiving morning he was gone for four hours and we all thought he got lost. He hadn't brought his cell phone with him, so we all went out in teams looking for him. We needn't have worried. He timed his run perfectly to be back in time for the important part, food!

Brewery Tour

Okay, so it's not the first place Daniel and I would think of spending an afternoon, but Jennie and Matt's idea to visit the local breweries in downtown Denver was kind of fun. We got to see a part of the area we live in that we don't normally take time to appreciate.

We are not beer aficionados, so this was a unique experience for us. We learned a lot from Matt who really knows his beers. He even bought me a pint. When we went out later that evening with Daniel's two sisters Jennie and Robin and their two husbands, both named Matt, we visited another microbrewery and had even more to drink, then we played trivia for a few minutes at Dave & Buster's. Overall, I think I was reminded, rather well, why I should never take up drinking as a hobby.

My two favorite parts of the day were taking a photo with Daniel in the phone booth outside a British pub, and enjoying the beautiful Denver architecture, especially the old brick buildings. It was also fun to have some time with just adults. We really appreciated Daniel's dad, Wayne, being the designated driver so we could all taste the strange brews.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Quite Simply... Daniel

This man still drives me crazy. No one else makes me as happy or as furious, as sentimental or as excited. Some days I think my world revolves around when he will be home and when he will wake up. I still get butterflies when he crinkles his eyes at me and my eyes tear up when I see him snuggling and loving our kids. I love the way he loves us!

When we were younger I remember him driving the car while I leaned the seat back and just watched him, grateful to God for placing this amazing man in my life, and thinking how much I did not deserve him. I would sing to him sometimes as we drove along, "You are the love of my life, quite simply the love of my life!" He would smile that shy quiet Daniel smile at me and reach over to hold my hand. To this day I still can't believe how blessed I am to be married to this man.

Better than Paris

Danya took this photo of Daniel and I. She said it looked like one of those "Paris photos" where a couple is sitting next to a window with the city of Paris outside. Daniel and I used to talk and make "someday" plans about taking a trip to Europe, maybe for our 15th or 20th anniversary. I've always wanted to see Ireland and Italy. We even planned online how we'd travel by train from Paris to Rome. But the money always seems to be needed elsewhere.

The vehicles break down, plumbing or electrical problems spring up, the kids have endless needs, the schools come up with new things the kids MUST have, or we get new foster kids who arrive with so little and need so much. We realized that it just isn't important enough to us to live on nothing so that we can save every penny to take a one week trip. So in the mean time I'll remember this poem that I read in 2000, the year Danya was born, and has meant so much to me over the years:

"You are the trip I did not take; You are the pearls I cannot buy; You are my blue Italian lake; You are my piece of foreign sky."
-Anne Campbell

My children let me see the world around me with new eyes. They reawaken me to the wonder and possibilities in every day. Why marvel at what others have done long ago when I can be excited by what my children are doing each day?

Fall Photo Shoot 2010

This was the first time I got to break out my mini home photo studio to take portraits of our kids in our new home. We moved the kitchen table and set everything up by the sliding glass doors. I'm still trying to find the best lighting, but I think they turned out alright.

We all wore red shirts because Daniel's family was coming that week for Thanksgiving and his sister Robin had suggested that everyone wear either black or red. Since I like to take portraits at Valentine's Day, Easter, and Christmas every year, I think I'll need to make the guys all wear pink for Valentine's Day in order to distinguish those photos from these. Of course, I may have to drug Daniel to get him to agree to it...

Fall Photo Shoot: The Three Stooges

It's always a challenge getting the younger ones to hold still and smile. Using natural sunlight without any sort of flash on my camera makes it even more important that they hold still. Katie was almost impossible to get a good photo of. Kevin spent most of his time laughing and trying to blow spit bubbles. And Shane just doesn't know how to smile naturally when a camera is pointed at him. So I had him shout out the vowel sounds and then took a picture right after he stopped. It worked great.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bath Girl!

We're continuing the tradition we began when Danya was a baby when we have bath time. We sing to the old Batman t.v. show theme song, "Na na Na na na na Na na.... Bath Girl!" and then we wash each part of her body singing, "This is the way we wash our ____, wash our ____, wash our ____. This is the way we wash our _____ so early in the morning!"

Katie loves the singing and it helps her be calm about having water poured over her. It also helps to teach her the names of her body parts. Then we pull her out and wrap her up in a towel and call her our "baby burrito". She loves having play time right after her bath with Daniel. He's much more fun than I am because I'm afraid of dropping her. She is so adorable. I'm going to miss this when she's too big to need our help with a bath. I keep thinking this is the last baby I'll ever sing these songs with... but then again, someday there will be grandbabies!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Daniel By the Numbers

34 birthdays
1 wife
6 kids
4 girls
2 boys
28 fostered
2 adopted
15 years in telcom
4 years in Colorado
14 years married
68 inches tall
2 sisters
1 brother
6 nephews
8 nieces
One lucky guy

Saturday, November 13, 2010

HeartWarming HouseWarming

We had our house warming party for our new home the weekend of Daniel's birthday in November. We've had house warming parties before in our previous homes, but usually no one but our family members would show up. That's why I was so touched and surprised when so many of our friends from church came with their families to celebrate our new home with us.

We just had snacks and dessert and talked while the kids played downstairs. It was so much fun giving a tour of my new home. I've never owned a home that I've been more proud of.

We told everyone that our party was going to be a "light party", so they were welcome to bring a light snack or dessert and, if they wanted to, a "light" gift. Some things we received were a night light, a candle, light syrup, and bubble bath because bubbles are light. Also, a beautiful purple serving platter that I love because my favorite color is purple. We are making such amazing Godly supportive friends here, and I am so grateful to God for them!

Crystal Clear

Danya has been working in a new science book this year called "Properties of Matter". For the first time ever I'm allowing her to work through the book entirely on her own. She reads about molecules and compounds and then writes notes and draws pictures in her science journal.

I'm amazed at how well she's understanding the concepts and able to express them in her own words in the journal. There are also lots of little experiments that she does without any help from me. She's learning to take control of her own education, which is a useful skill, since as we all know, when you're an adult no one is going to knock on your door and ask if they can teach you something that you need to know.

In November she was working on experiments to see which combinations of materials make crystals and which ones don't. She had several bowls going at once and was very excited when she finally got positive results.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Katie is sooo confused. A few months ago she would call Daniel and I a generic "DaddyMommy" because she didn't seem to know which name went to which person. If we ask her to point to Daddy she can do it, and she can point to Mommy. But when she first sees us walk into a room or any time she's very excited she can't seem to remember which word to use.

So now she has started smooshing the two words together to create a lovely new title for us. "DUMMY!" I can't explain the hilarious and shocked looks we get in public when she yells this as she runs toward us, arms wide open.